When running back D’Andre Swift is healthy, the Detroit Lions' offense is so much more dangerous.
Swift has been dealing with ankle and shoulder injuries dating all the way back to Week 1, but he's probably the healthiest he's been all season right now and it showed last week in the Lions' 41-10 win over Chicago. Swift totaled 117 scrimmage yards in the contest with a 17-yard touchdown run and a 21-yard receiving touchdown.
"It's the best he's looked, and you can tell, he felt well, he felt good, was moving well, and then really, these last two days of practice, I feel like have been two of his better days all year," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said of Swift on Friday.
"So, that would lead me to believe that he is trending the right way. He looks like he feels good. He's got a smile on his face, he's out there working, and so, yeah, I feel pretty good about where he's at. I think we all do right now."
Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson was asked this week what having a healthy Swift means for his call sheet on Sunday. Swift is one of the most versatile running backs in the league when healthy.
"We can call some draw plays on third-and-long and they can work, and so that's the difference," Johnson said, referring to a 3rd and 18 play last week where Swift ripped off a 35-yard run. "He's electric, certainly felt that last game. It felt back to where he was when he started the season. So, it'll be great. Great to get that version of Swift again this week and it makes it – like I said, a lot easier for us calling plays and staying on schedule."
Campbell said the thing with Swift when he's healthy and feeling the way he is right now is that they have to just get him started and let Swift do the rest.
There were some headlines this week coming out of Minnesota about the turf conditions they played on last week at Lambeau Field. There were plenty of instances of Vikings players slipping on the turf in that loss to the Packers last week.
Campbell said he showed his players clips of players slipping on Lambeau turf and made having the proper cleats a big emphasis this week.
"Put up there a bunch of clips of players slipping at Lambeau, and that's one of our keys to victory is wearing the proper shoes, and our guys know it," Campbell said. "They're on it. Shoot, they've worn them the last two days, what they're going to wear out there. They've worn it on our field. So, it's been good, and we've gotten pretty good work out there. Shoes are big. Slipping is not an excuse this week."
ROOKIE OF THE WEEK
Lions pass rusher James Houston has been named the Pepsi Rookie of the Week for his big performance against the Chicago Bears last week. In his first career start, Houston recorded 3.0 sacks and forced a fumble in a 41-10 victory that kept the Lions' playoff hopes alive.
Houston is the only player in NFL history to record 8.0 sacks in his first six NFL games played.
There will be new turf at Ford Field for the 2023 season. The Lions plan to install the new CORE monofilament turf in the coming month, which is a safer and better playing surface than the slit film turf that's been at Ford Field since 2019.
"We've talked about it. This has been in the making for a while," Campbell said Friday. "(Team president) Rod (Wood)'s been talking about this before anything came up about the grass and this and that. We're committed – (owner) Sheila (Hamp) and Rod are committed to finding whatever it is. We know we can't have grass, we're a dome team. So let's find the best-rated turf that we can get. So that's been a priority."
Campbell said the move was done for player safety and shows a commitment from ownership that cost will not factor into player safety.
"I think it's another reason why this is a good place to be," Campbell said. "When you have ownership that's willing to do anything – and it kinda starts with the players – I think they think that way. I think that's big."
ED BLOCK COURAGE AWARD
Defensive lineman Romeo Okwara has been named the Detroit Lions 2022 Ed Block Courage Award recipient.
The Ed Block Courage Award annually goes to a Lions player who exemplifies sportsmanship or has overcome injury and/or adversity to excel on the field.
"Romeo suffered a season ending Achilles injury during the regular season in 2021," Lions head athletic trainer Kevin Bastin said. "In his recovery, he faced many hurdles and challenges, but his unwavering work ethic and positive attitude propelled him through the process, and he made it back onto the field where he has excelled. Romeo is a true professional and he is very deserving of this award as we conclude the 2022 regular season."
Campbell said there would have to be a Friday setback for starting safety DeShon Elliott not to return to the lineup Sunday after missing the last two games with a shoulder injury.